Sunday, 15 September 2019

Adnams XX Mild Ale during WW II

In country districts, where often the only Mild a brewery produced was in the 4d class pre-war, the conflict had only minimal effect of beer strength.  Adnams is a good example.

Over the whole course of the war, Adnams XX lost a mere two gravity points, falling from 1029º to 1027º. There was a good reason why the gravity didn’t fall below 1027º: the way the tax system worked it made no economic sense. The tax equivalent to a beer of 1027º was the minimum charged, whatever the strength of the beer.

Just as with the gravity, there was very little change in the hopping rate of XX during the war. Despite brewers being ordered by the government early in the war to reduce it. Though Adnams’ hopping rate was a good bit lower than at either Whitbread or Lees. It started around 5 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt. While Whitbread’s rate went from over 8 lbs per quarter to around 5.5 lbs. While Lees went from around 7 lbs per quarter to 5.5 lbs.

Adnams Mild Ale during WW II
Date Year Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
20th Sep 1939 XX 1029.0 1006.1 3.03 78.99% 4.93 0.57
2nd Sept 1940 XX 1029.0 1006.1 3.03 78.99% 4.90 0.57
13th Mar 1941 XX 1028.0 1006.1 2.90 78.24% 5.33 0.57
14th Jan 1942 XX 1027.0 1005.0 2.91 81.53% 4.63 0.50
1st Jan 1943 XX 1027.0 1005.5 2.84 79.48% 4.63 0.51
17th Feb 1943 XX 1027.0 1005.5 2.84 79.48% 4.63 0.51
9th Apr 1943 XX 1027.0 1005.0 2.91 81.53% 4.63 0.50
2nd Feb 1944 XX 1027.0 1006.1 2.77 77.43% 4.63 0.51
1st Jan 1945 XX 1027.0 1006.1 2.77 77.43% 4.63 0.50
Adnams brewing records held at the brewery, Books 26 to 32

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Let's Brew - 1939 Boddington CC

Boddington’s Strong Ale, CC, had been around for a while, pre-dating WW I.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t much weaker in 1939 than it had been in 1913, when its gravity was 1062º.

There was quite a tradition of Strong Ales in the Manchester area. A tradition which continued well past WW II. CC itself managed to stick around until at least the 1950s. I suspect that it was a bottled beer, though it may have been sold on fraught occasionally in the winter.

The grist is similar to their XX Mild, based around pale and crystal malt. Though proprietary the sugars are slightly different, I’ve interpreted them again as being No. 3 invert. There’s also rather a lot of caramel, which is responsible for the finished beer’s dark brown colour.

As was typical at Boddington, a large number of different types of hops were employed. In this case five. As this example was brewed before the outbreak of war, it’s no surprise to see some foreign hops in the mix. They were Oregon and Styrian, both from the 1937 harvest and kept in a cold store, plus English from the 1937 and 1938 harvests.

1939 Boddington CC
pale malt 7.25 57.63%
crystal malt 60 L 1.50 lb 11.92%
flaked maize 2.75 lb 21.86%
flaked wheat 0.33 lb 2.62%
malt extract 0.125 lb 0.99%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.500 lb 3.97%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.125 lb 0.99%
Cluster 220 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 1.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1056.5
FG 1015
ABV 5.49
Apparent attenuation 73.45%
IBU 67
SRM 18
Mash at 148º F
Sparge at 162º F
Boil time 220 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

Friday, 13 September 2019

Barclay Perkins Mild Ales during WW II

I've finally got back to working on my current book project.  The trip to Japan and South Korea interrupted me for more about six weeks. Maybe I shouldn't go so crazy writing up my trips in such tedious detail.

Before WW I, most of the larger London brewers brewed a single Mild, usually called X Ale, which had an OG a little over 1050º. The war changed all that, particularly in creating a demand for low-gravity Milds, which were similar to the cheaper classes of wartime beer. These were in the watery 1027-1030º range.

The disastrous Snowden emergency budget of 1931 also prompted London brewers to expand their range of Milds. Standard Mild dropped from 1043º to 1037º as a result of the increase in excise duty. But as there was still demand form a stronger type of Mild, some brewers introduced a “new” XX Ale at the old X Ale strength.

Combine this with different coloured versions and you could end up with a dazzling variety of Milds produced in a single brewery. Barclay Perkins went into the war with five, three strengths and with two differently coloured versions of the stronger two. That obviously wasn’t going to last long, as the war inevitably brought about some rationalisation of a brewery’s range.

Barclay Perkins provides a good example of what happened to the different calsse3s of Mild Ale during the war.

Their three strengths of Mild – A (4d), X (5d) and XX (6d) – started the war with reasonable gaps in strength of 5 or 6 gravity points. But by 1943 that was down to a mere 3 points spanning all three. Little wonder then that that year the weakest, A, was dropped.

A similar effect could be seen at breweries that produced multiple Pale Ales. Gravity reductions during the war concertinaed the beers together as the gravity gaps got even smaller. This inevitably led to some examples being dropped, usually the weakest.

Barclay Perkins Mild Ales during WW II
Date Beer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1939 A 4 1030.7 1008.8 2.83 71.31% 42
1940 A 1028.6 1007.5 2.74 73.80% 39
1941 A 1028.7 1008 2.68 72.12% 46
1941 A 1028.8 1006 2.96 79.16% 45
1942 A 1027.3 1007 2.63 74.36% 46
1943 A 1027.1 1007 2.60 74.17% 42
1939 X 5 1034.9 1009 3.35 74.18% 43
1940 X 6 1035.5 1011.9 3.05 66.48% 80
1941 X 1031.6 1008.5 2.99 73.10% 49
1942 X 1028.6 1006 2.93 79.02% 41
1943 X 1028.6 1007 2.80 75.52% 44
1944 X 1028.9 1009 2.57 68.86% 40
1945 X 12 1030.0 1008.4 2.80 72.00%
1939 XX 6 1042.5 1012.5 3.89 70.60% 45
1940 XX 8 1032.9 1007.8 3.26 76.29% 80
1941 XX 8 1033.5 1009.2 3.15 72.54% 100
1942 XX 1031.4 1006 3.30 80.89% 43
1943 XX 11 1030.2 1007.2 2.98 76.16% 75
1945 XX 1031.4 1010 2.77 68.15% 50
Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/01/623, ACC/2305/01/624, ACC/2305/01/625 and ACC/2305/01/626.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

How I write my travel posts

You may have wondered how I can get so much detail into my travel posts. Simple: I make most of it up.

No, that's not true. I won't pretend that I can remember everything precisely after I return and start writing the blog posts. I'm too old and my brain too alcohol riddled for that. So I've developed a few techniques to help my faulty recollection.

I take lots of photos
Just shy of 400 on my last trip with the kids to Japan and South Korea. I use photos both to jog my memory about events, but also as a lazy way of taking notes. For example, by photographing a menu or a meal. Then there's a vague chance that I might remember what I ate and drank. Photos are also good for keeping events is sequence, as they're date and time stamped.

Of course, I also need photos to illustrate the posts. The more I take, the better. But I still usually return wishing I’d taken more. It doesn’t help when the kids keep telling me off for snapping away.

I write notes by hand
I have to admit that this is pretty erratic. Not wanting to be a twat and spoil a good time with friends, I usually only put pen to paper when I’m on my own. Mostly sitting at a bar somewhere. Often in an airport. I just scribble down any old crap that comes into my head and hope that I’ll be able to read it later.

Quite often, I’ll transcribe and use it exactly as written. Because, rather than notes in the true sense, it tends to be my observations of what I see around me. Or impressions of the trip so far. Occasionally I will note something down that I don’t want to forget. But that’s more the exception.

I write electronic notes
At the start or the end of the day, while I’m in my hotel, I’ll dash off some notes about what I’ve been up to on my travel laptop. Mostly this is just in the form of notes. A few sentences about places and events. Though sometimes I’ll write whole paragraphs that end up pretty much intact on the blog.

Some of my electronic notes were copied from emails to Dolores. I was sending her reasonably long reports on what the kids were up to as the holiday progressed. Quite big chunks of these emails, in slightly modified form, ended up in the blog posts.

I returned from Asia with a couple of thousand words in a text document. This formed the skeleton of the blog posts.

I write in parallel
Once I’ve returned, I try and flesh out each post with as much detail as I can remember. As I recall stuff, I quickly write it down. Which usually entails jumping around the timeline of the trip as events from different days pop into my head.

It’s quite an anarchic way to write, but I find that it works well for me. Obviously, the emphasis is on getting the early days of a trip completed first. But sometimes I have finished the beginning and end of a trip before I’ve done the middle.

This travel writing takes up a lot of my time. Yesterday I returned to my current book project for the first time in five weeks. Just as well I’m not working to a deadline.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Next August in Australia

That's my plan for my next adventure with the kids. It having the great advantage of being winter and not so effing hot as Japan and South Korea were.

Without infinite pools of cash - and having recently calculated my likely pension - it would be nice to recoup some of our expenses.

Are you based in Australia and fancy:

  • brewing a collaboration beer
  • having me give a talk
  • getting me pissed
Get in touch.

A very rough itinerary is: Perth, Melbourbe, Brisbane and Cairns. But that's very flexible. I can be easily tempted to stray elsewhere.

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1939 Boddington IP

Going into the war, Boddington IP was a pretty respectable strength at around 4.5% ABV. Of course, it wasn’t going to stay like that for long.

With an OG of 1045º, IP most likely retailed at 7d per pint in the public bar. In London, it would have counted as and Ordinary Bitter. But in much of the country, including Manchester, the stronger 8d per pint class of Bitter didn’t exist.

Accounting for a round a quarter of Boddington’s output in 1939, IP was their second most popular beer after XX Mild. Though it was a very distant second: about two-thirds of what they brewed was XX.

The grist is very simple in terms of malts, being all base malt. 15 of the quarters (336 lbs) being from Newark, the remaining 3 being simply described as “foreign”. There was also 0.75 quarter of  enzymic, something which was very popular amongst regional breweries in the middle of the 20th century.

In addition to the malt, there was a considerable quantity of flaked maize and also a little wheat. I’m not sure in which form the wheat was. It could have been malted, but I’m guessing flaked. I assume it was included to aid head retention.

Two sugars were employed: Br. and FL. No idea what they were. I’ve substituted No. 2 invert.

No fewer than six types of hops were used. There were English hops from the 1937 and 1938 harvests, plus Oregon and Styrian Goldings from the 1937 harvest. The dry hops were a combination of Styrian and English, from 1937 and 1938.

1939 Boddington IP
pale malt 6.50 lb 66.12%
flaked wheat 0.33 lb 3.36%
flaked maize 2.00 lb 20.35%
malt extract 0.25 lb 2.54%
No. 2 invert sugar 0.75 lb 7.63%
Cluster 150 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
Cluster dry hops 0.125 oz
OG 1045
FG 1010.5
ABV 4.56
Apparent attenuation 76.67%
IBU 48
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 162º F
Boil time 150 minutes
pitching temp 61.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Going home

Check out time is an early 10 AM, but that's about when we need to leave, anyway. I've arranged with the kids to rendezvous at 9:30.

Another ancient taxi driver takes us to Ueno station. But we're dropped at the JR one, not the Keisei one, which is in a separate building. It takes us a little while to orientate ourselves and walk to it.

By which time we're hotter 200 hot sticks. We're all getting a bit impatient as we try to buy train tickets.

"Which terminal is it, Dad?"

"I think it was terminal 1." I'm not completely sure. But that's the last stop and I remember us getting on where the train started.

The bastard machine won't accept my credit card and we have to pay with cash. Except we're a little short on that. It's 7600 yen altogether. I have a 5000 yen note and some shrapnel.

"Do you have any money left, kids?"

“Dad. Why didn’t you hang onto enough money for the train tickets?”

“It’s my fault now, is it? I gave you some yen for exactly this reason.”

“I thought it was in case we got lost?”

“No, in case I made some terrible miscalculation. Or an understandable, small human error. Which is the case here.”

“Dad. This isn’t helping.”

Andrew has two 500 yen coins, which is handy. And Alexei has a couple of 100 yen coins. Adding up all the change we have, we scrape together just about enough. By the time we're done, Andrew looks close to collapse. I don't feel much better.

Luckily the platform has good air conditioning. We perk up a little as we wait for the train. At least we’re in no rush.

It's about an hour to the airport and the train is fast. Most of it is through Tokyo's densely-packed suburbs, where the houses are almost piled on top of one another. No-one has much in the way of a garden. Eventually we pop out into paddy fields.

Bags dumped, we head to our gate. There's a big queue at immigration. Just as well we're in plenty of time. Unlike at Seoul airport. That really was stressing me out.

We pool our last few yens and have enough to get a couple of drinks and a sandwich from a vending machine. Alexei gets to eat the sandwich. Neither me nor Andrew is feeling hungry. I’m a bit stressed up again. Had this with the last couple of flights. Pretty annoying.

I watch some Taskmaster as we wait to help me chill out.

The flight is long and uneventful, other than a slightly rocky landing.

There's a big queue for passport control, but only at the manned booths. The machine ones are quite quiet.

"Just think, kids, I won't be able to use the machines in a few months."

I hate the morons in the UK so much at the moment. Bunch of deranged lunatics. Especially the politicians.

We have a bit of a wait for our bags, but a quick taxi ride has us home by 7 PM. Dolores looks relieved to see us all back intact.

The trip must have gone quite well. Despite the frustrations of the heat and some uncomfortable bits of travelling, we returned all still talking to each other. No-one got a black eye, no-one was spat on. And no-one was arrested or deported. Or caught some horrible disease.

The kids are already talking about another trip next summer. Can’t have been that unpleasant an experience this time around. Let’s see if my bank account can stretch as far as another holiday.

Don’t be deceived by the bickering. I enjoy travelling with the kids. Though they are occasionally irritating.

They spot stuff. They carry their own luggage. They don’t get lost. They don’t get crazy drunk. They’re entertaining. Good company, too. They learn some of the language. They don’t whinge too much. They don’t mind hanging around in pubs. (Quite the opposite in Andrew’s case.)

And they keep me in check. A little. Which isn’t such a bad thing. Not going to tell the kinds that, though.

Singapore and Australia have been mentioned for next year. If I have any money left. Sponsors are welcome.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Last full day

Our last full day. The plan is to visit the Mikasa. Which is about an hour away by commuter train.

We walk to the station, which leaves us melting again. Andrew's T shirt is soaked through.

We have to change trains after a couple of stops. But we can't get the train we expected to, because it isn't a JR service. There is a JR train going the same way, but it stops at a different station. We'd expected to go to one much closer to the Mikasa.  Though there is a dirty great aircraft carrier just over the road.

“Look Andrew, ‘a helicopter carrier’.” I do the inverted commas with my hands.

“I know, Dad.”

“It’s quite big, isn’t it?”

“Can we save this for later when we’re somewhere cool?”

“Those Japanese ‘training ships’ we saw in Amsterdam weren’t exactly small, either.”

“Stop with that fucking quotation mark shit and get moving. I’m about to die.”

We're not sure of the direction to the Mikasa. Andrew is getting impatient. But he has a point: it is boiling hot. Luckily there's a little ticket restaurant just over the road. We head there to regroup. And for refreshment.

They’re quite fun, these ticket places. And dead easy. Even without the English version, as they have pictures of the food on the machines. You can see exactly what you’re getting. Just bung in enough coins and notes to pay for it, then hand the ticket it spits out to the waiter. In this case waiter and chef. As he’s the only person working here. It is pretty tiny. There are just a few seats at the counter and three small tables.

We all get a beer. I get some fried dumplings and Alexei fried chicken. Both are pretty good. It's weird to see how the dumplings are cooked. First they're deep fried, then the cook poured the fat away and sort of grilled them to finish off. Never seen anything cooked that way before.

On the TV they have the bizarre programme with the enormous transvestite bloke. I’ve never managed to work out what the hell it’s about. It has “brunch” in the title so I suppose it’s something like Sunday Brunch on Channel 4. Just with dollops of added weirdness.

The food is pretty good. Just fills a hole nicely.

“That beer was just what I needed, boys.”

“Something alcoholic is always what you ‘need’, Dad” Andrew replies cynically, complete with air quotes. The bastard.

Cooled down, we make our plans. It's a bit far to walk.

“Taxi, kids?”

“Too right.”

We quickly grab a taxi that takes us directly to the museum. Luckily, cabs are neither rare nor expensive here.

I notice loads of places obviously geared to American servicemen. Like a gun shop, tattoo parlours and military tailors. There's a big US naval base here as well as a Japanese one.

The Mikasa is dead interesting. Though it's odd to think that, despite being one of the most powerful battleships in the world when built, it was obsolete just a couple of years later after the first dreadnought was launched.

The displays inside are excellent. Though some of the historical stuff is a bit dodgy. And a lot is only explained in Japanese. Odd that at the rear there's a little admiral's suite, as in wooden sailing warships.

They have quite a few interactive displays to recreate Tsushima and even virtual reality. It's mostly pretty well air-conditioned, too.

We get another taxi back to the station. Where I quickly nip into the shop to get myself a can of beer.

"Dad, do you really need that?"

"It's hot and I wouldn't want to get dehydrated."

"Not much chance of getting dehydrated the way you knock back beer."

"Better safe than sorry."

Considering it's the weekend, the train is pretty crowded. But the airco is good, making it pleasant enough.

Is that young woman over on the other side of the carriage looking my way? Surely not? She’s sitting right next to the door. The one I get off through. I throw her a smile as I depart. Which she returns. Nice people, the Japanese.

A little ramen place with Alexei - another ticket place. It seems to have a samurai theme. The door handles are samurai swords.

"Do you want a large or a small one?" the waiter asks. We both go for large. Which may have been a mistake. I feel totally stuffed. So much so, I can't even sip on my can of Highball for an hour.

We finish the evening in the kids’ room finishing off the booze and snacks.

It’s been a really fun holiday. Despite the heat. The kids definitely seem to have enjoyed themselves.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Back to Tokyo

The typhoon has spared us. A few kilometres to the right and we’d have been royally fucked.

The trains are running a normal service today. At least from Kyoto to Tokyo. We were pretty lucky with the typhoon. It was a bit windy, but I've seen much worse in Amsterdam.

The Japanese railways are reacting impressively well. Coping with pretty extreme weather conditions with only minimal interruption to services.

I’m sure Japan would ultimately drive me insane, but in the short term there are so many things I love about the country.

Or maybe I wouldn’t go crazy. Everyone is friendly, polite and well-ordered. When we saw some rubbish on the street in Kyoto, it shocked me. Reminding me that I’d seen no shit on the streets since, well, I’d been in Japan.

Joe to the station, as usual. We have another ancient taxi driver - are any under 60? It's still boiling hot so we go in search of an air-conditioned waiting room. We find one and soon get seats as other travellers leave.

I got dead jealous watching other passengers eat from bento boxes on our early journeys. I'm determined to share the experience.

“Bento box for me, dear boys.”

“What are you talking about, Dad.”

“The ace food I’m about to get.”

“Don’t take too long.”

“You know me, Andrew.”

“That’s why I said that, Dad. I know you.” The cheeky little bugger..

I leave the kids in the airco waiting room and head off in search of one. There are several places selling them. I select a random one and get a random box. Plus a couple of cans of Suntory Highball.

"What took you so long, Dad?"

"I've only been 10 minutes. What are you complaining about? You have seats and there's airco." They’re so panicky, sometimes. “We’ve ages until our train, anyway.”

As we have reserved seats, the train journey is a pleasure. One of alternating tightly-packed villages, even more tightly-packed cities and bright green rice fields. It's all very exotic. And I’ve a bento box. What could be more Japanese than this? Tucking into a bento box on a shinkansen.

My bento box contains sliced beer, rice and an omelette. It’s rather tasty. Before I’ve even lifted the first mouthful to my lips, Andrew is already pestering me.

“Be careful how you eat. Don’t make a mess.”

I’ve been putting up with this crap the whole trip. Don’t do this, don’t do that, do do this. Nag, nag, nag. It’s almost as if they think they’re the parents.

“Fuck off, Andrew.” At least I have a good comeback.

The trip continues with near non-stop nagging. I take solace in my Suntory Highball. Beer, but with an added something.

“It’s called alcohol, Dad.”

“Was I speaking out loud again?”

“Yes, Dad, you do it all the time. Mum’s right to suspect that you’re going senile.”

“Fuck off, Andrew.” I think. “Did I say that out loud?”

“Yes, Dad, and can you keep it down with the swearing. People can understand the F-word.”

“But not in all its subtleties: fucked, fucked off, fucked up, can’t be fucked, fuckwit, fucking, fucking, fuckity fuck.” I reply. “It’s such a versatile word.”

“And one that everyone understands. Keep your voice down.”

This isn’t how I imagined parenthood. Adoring kids, at my feet, saying: “Oh Dad, you’re so cool.” That’s what I expected. My kids, really annoyingly, seem to have their own minds and ideas. Who could have expected that? I blame their Mum.

Alexei points out the brail on the top of cans.

“I suppose that’s so you don’t accidentally drink a can of cola instead of beer by mistake.” I quip.

I’ve miscalculated with the Highball cans. I’ve just finished the last one and we’re still an hour away from Tokyo. Where’s the refreshment trolley when you need it?

At Tokyo station we get another taxi to our hotel. We’ve two nights here before we head back to Amsterdam. It’s still stiflingly hot.

Our hotel rooms are tiny. But that seems to be the way in Tokyo. The room isn’t much bigger than the bed. There's barely half a metre between the desk and bed. So close that even though there's a little chair, I sit on the bed to fiddle with my laptop.

There’s a little shop on the ground floor, which is handy. We stock up on drinks and snacks there. I get myself some more squid jerky. I’ve got quite a taste for the stuff. Inevitably, Andrew is drawn to the Strong Zero.

The kids have been dead helpful in finding places to go. They’ve noticed that there’s a brewpub within walking distance. So that’s where we head for the evening.

Ottotto Brewery is one of the largest place we’ve been in so far. Perhaps being in the basement helps them get more space. Along one wall is all the brewing kit behind a glass wall. It definitely looks like they really brew here. It’s looking good. But the proof of the pudding is in drinking five pints of it.

That’s good timing: it’s Happy Hour. Which means for 850 yen you get 435ml of beer plus a little snack.

“Look – more Japanese tapas, kids.”

“Can you hurry up and get us some beer.” They’re so impatient, sometimes.

I get myself a Red IPA. Which is both red and IPA-flavoured. SO it’s already one up on that dire brewpub in Hiroshima. The kids both go for the wheat beer.

“How’s your beer.”

“Fine, Dad.”

Some of the little bits of food are slightly odd, but edible enough. Most of the larger dishes are very American. But I suppose what this place is trying to be – and American-style brewpub. At least the beer is decent enough. Though, take away the customers and it could be just about anywhere in the world.

We don’t stay all that long. Just 90 minutes or so. I don’t want to burn through all my remaining yen quite yet.

On the walk back to the hotel, the lights sparkle and gleam. It does look very impressive at night, Tokyo.

Ottotto Brewery Hamamatsucho
105-0013 Tōkyō-to,
Minato City,

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Let's Brew - 1869 William Younger BS Porter

Porter, the big beer hit of the 18th century, didn’t take long to spread from London, first to other parts of England and then north of the border into Scotland.

Initially it was all imported. A poem, published in a newspaper in 1774, bemoaned the money Scots wasted importing Porter from England: “Why drain our cash be-south the Tweed?” Local brewers took heed and picked up the style.

Stout was popular in Scotland right through into the 20th century, but standard-strength Porter never took hold like it did in England. By the middle of the 19th century, little of it was brewed. Making this a rare Scottish example of the style.

Most striking is the very low gravity for the 19th century. A good bit lower than in England. For example, in 1879, Whitbread’s Porter had an OG of 1050º . The grist is odd, too. There’s a surprisingly high percentage of amber malt. There’s so much that I suspect it must have been diastatic. A London Porter of this period might have contained a little amber malt, but would certainly have contained brown malt.

The hopping is very tricky on this one. All of the hops were second-hand, having already been used once in another brew. I’ve greatly reduced the quantity to take that into account. Though whether that’s really the same is open to debate. If they have them to hand, you could try using 3 oz. of spent hops instead.

1869 William Younger BS Porter
pale malt 4.50 lb 45.00%
amber malt 4.25 lb 42.50%
black malt 1.25 lb 12.50%
Goldings 90 min 1.25 oz spent hops
OG 1041
FG 1017
ABV 3.18
Apparent attenuation 58.54%
IBU 22
SRM 36
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 185º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale

The above is an extract from the best book ever written on Scottish brewing, my Scotland! vol. 2:

Friday, 6 September 2019

Kyoto birthday

It's Andrew's birthday. Slightly odd having it fall while we’re in Japan.

The typhoon is a bit worrying as they're warning of train cancellations tomorrow, too. Though it mostly seems to be west of Kyoto. We're just outside the red area here so hopefully the trains will be running to Tokyo tomorrow. The TV news has been showing empty stations.

“That bottle of whisky looks emptier than when I went to bed last night.”

“I had some after you’d left.” Andrew replies.

“Who said you could drink my whisky?”

“You shouldn’t have left it here if you didn’t want any of it drunk.” I hate logic like that.

We try to visit an old mansion but it’s closed on account of the storm. It's a bit windy, but not too bad so far. Seems a bit over the top to be closed for a little breeze.

There are quite a lot of old wooden buildings on the way. Many of which look abandoned. Though that could be the style. A postman seems to be delivering letters to at least one. They have barred wooden windows, I guess a hangover from pre-glass days. Some newer posher buildings, too. With double car parking spaces in front. Plus one dead grand traditional looking house.

See one house that can't have been more than 2 metres wide. Even smaller than the stupidly narrow houses in Amsterdam.

“Dad, can you stop taking photos?”

“Can’t you see the interesting old house?”

“Stop it, Dad, and hurry up before the weather gets too bad.”

Brilliant. We’re in a really interesting bit of town and I’m not allowed to take photos. The kids can be real twats sometimes.

“What do you want to do, kids?”

“We could take a closer look at the tower.”

“I’m OK with that. It does have a pub, doesn’t it?”

“Can you shut up with that shit?”

“Just trying to lighten the mood.”

“Don’t. It’s really annoying.”

The kids are so tolerant.

We trail down to Kyoto tower. The light rain is making walking more than 100 metres a possibility. We've walked almost the whole way to the station. It’s the longest walk we’ve had – other than in an airport – since arriving in Asia.

“Do you want to go up the tower, kids?”

“No, I don’t need to do that.”

“Do you want to go into the food court underneath it?”

“No.” The lads are very adventurous today.

This definitely seems to be downtown. Looks like the main shopping district. What with all the shops. And people.

Alexei has taken my last paracetamol. Spotting a chemist, I nip in to stock up. The shelves are helpfully labelled in English, so I can find where the pain-killers are easily enough. But all the packages are only in Japanese. I grab a random packet and ask at the till if it's paracetamol. A bloke in a white coat says no and walks over with me to show me which are.

Outside the wind is picking up and the kids are getting nervous about the weather. They’re keen on getting back to the hotel.

“Uncle David was in Jamaica when that was hit by a hurricane.”

“Yes. What’s your point?

“He said it was dead windy.”

“Now, there’s a surprise. You have some rubbish stories, Dad.”

Andrew's stomach is buggered. Me and Alexei go to eat in a little Japanese fast-food place a few doors down from the hotel. I noticed it the other day. The low prices grabbed my attention. For food and beer.

At the entrance they have machines where you order and pay for your food. It spits out a ticket, which you give to the waiter. Some foreigners must struggle with the concept, as there’s a sign on the door in English saying you have to get a ticket from the machine first.

It’s amazingly fast. Our meals are delivered just a couple of minutes after we sit down. A Japanese family come in and they’re gone in 10 minutes. Served and fully eaten up.

The food isn’t bad at all. I’ve not had a single duff meal in Japan. The quality of the food is very high. Even in fast food restaurants or convenience stores. Did I mention that I really love Japan?

It’s been raining a bit this evening and it’s quite windy, but nothing too crazy. We seem to have missed the worst of it.

Watching more baseball. The other incomprehensible stuff gets boring after a while. Baseball I can understand. But Japanese baseball does have some odd features. At a certain point in each game, the fans sing a song and wave sperm-shaped balloons, which they release at the end of the song. Then there are the 6-year-old cheer leaders who troop out at one gap between innings.

The typhoon is having some effect. When I go to the 7 11 with Alexei for more nosh, it’s absolutely pissing it down outside. We wait for the lights to change and sprint across the road.

Suntory Highball, sushi and squid jerky for me. Another sausage on a stick for Alexei. This time it is like a corn dog. Obviously, we get cans of Strong Zero for Andrew. Then a sprint back over the road.

We’re watching a Japanese programme where people are just fishing from a boat in the sea. Half are women. None of the throwing the fish back shit. Back on, land they're now cooking it.

Japanese and Korean TV has loads of graphics and other shit on the screen. It often looks very cluttered. Adding little bits of animation over live TV is weird.

The Japan Korea trade war is a big deal. There were loads of Boycott Japan signs in the Seoul metro - on every train door, in fact. Just saw video of people in Korea pouring away Asahi and Pocari Sweat. No problem with the Sweat, but that's a waste of beer.

When we watched the English-language Korean news in Korea, the first five items were about the problems with Japan.

Andrew was feeling a bit shit with his stomach earlier today, but he’s perked up this evening a bit. That’s probably due to the Strong Zero. That usually cheers him up.

Luckily, the trains look like they'll be OK tomorrow. The trains were running from here to Tokyo today, so I think we'll be fine tomorrow.

The hotel left a card (with notes on it) and sweets for Andrew in his room today. They must have noticed from his passport that it was his birthday today. They really are very nice here. I love Japan. Only seen two policemen so far, but no anarchy on the streets. Social control, obviously.

“What’s your favourite ELO song, Dad?” Alexei is going on about the Electric Light Orchestra again. It's so weird. And annoying. It makes me wish I’d dawdled more taking photographs earlier.

“Roll Over Beethoven.”

“Not Mr. Blue Sky?”

“No, not Mr. Effing Blue Sky.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s shit. I’ve told you that several times.”

I quick whisky or two and I’m off to bed. Another day of travel tomorrow.

Yayoiken Gojo Karasuma
600-8173 Kyoto,
Tel: +81 75-353-1805

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Kyoto temple

Today’s plan is to visit the nearby temple. Which is supposed to be pretty impressive.

First we nip to the 7 11 to get some breakfast. Sandwiches for me and Alexei, Strong Zero for Andrew. How much of that stuff has he drunk since we’ve been here?

The temple isn’t that far away. Just a few hundred metres. Which on most days would have been a big problem. But we’re already feeling the effects of the typhoon. It’s raining and a good bit cooler. Not exactly pleasant, but way better than every other day so far.

There are so many 7 11s here. One about every 100 metres. We pass three on the short walk to the temple, two virtually opposite each other.  And they all open 24 hours a day. Which, as they don’t seem to have licensing laws, means you can buy whisky 24/7. Yet another reason to love Japan.

It takes us a while to find the entrance to the temple. I’m starting to quite enjoy the rain. It’s only really mizzling. Enough to cool you down without soaking you. Perfect, really.

The temple is supposedly one of the largest wooden buildings in the world. I can believe that as it is pretty damn big. I’m surprised that there aren’t signs about naked flames here as they were at the temple in Tokyo.

You have to take your shoes off to enter the temple. Andrew can’t be arsed so only me and Alexei go in. It’s pretty impressive. But, as you aren’t allowed to take photographs inside, I can’t show you. Most of the interior is covered in mats, where people sit and pray.

When we’re done wandering around the temple complex we walk back to our hotel. The rain has got heavier. But it’s still more pleasant than the weather has been for the rest of the trip. We manage to get back to the hotel without Andrew passing out.

There’s a lot on the news about the approaching typhoon. Thankfully with graphics, so we have some idea of what they’re talking about. The Typhoon is predicted to make landfall around Hiroshima. Kyoto is in the outer zone. But only just.

In the evening we head out to a beer pub, which isn’t that far away from our hotel. It’s in a little side street close to the river.

Here was me thinking Amsterdam pubs were small. Hachi Craft Beer and Sake makes Cafe Belgique look like a Wetherspoons. Just four seats. But they have two record decks and non-stop vinyl playing. Mostly early 70's discoey funky stuff today. Upstairs is a vinyl record shop.

Only 5 draught beers, but, as I said, the place is tiny. You could maybe cram in a dozen people. Oh, they also have 8 sakes in bottles. The big bastard ones sake always seems to come in. Some served warm, some cold.

There’s food, too. Which is incredible in a space only about 25% bigger than my bathroom. Just little bits and bobs, but it’s still impressive. They’re very good at making the most of limited space in Japan. Which I suppose is just logical, given the geography of the country.

“Where are you from?” the barmaid asks Andrew.



“No, Amsterdam, in Holland.”

The barmaid laughs nervously and employs that most female of Japanese gestures: she covers her mouth with her hand.

Alexei has ordered a Thornbridge beer.

“You do know that’s an English beer? In fact you were drinking with Dom, one of their brewers just a few weeks ago when we were in Sheffield.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“Sure I said something at the time.”

Andrew’s gone with a local beer, Kyoto Brewing Fresh Hop Wheat Ale.

And me? Hotan, a Black IPL from Hop Kotan Brewing on Hakkaido.

I’m starting to feel nostalgic for beers like this. Once they made me a little bit sad. Now I think: at least it isn’t full of sludge and seems to have been brewed competently.

“What are you on about, Dad?”

“Did I just say that out loud?”

“Yes, Dad.”
“Yes, Dad.”

“Can you shut up about all that beer shit, now?” Alexei can be quite aggressive.

“OK, Lexxie. What do you think of the size of the sake bottles here?”

“They’re huge, but that’s is still beer shit. Sake is technically beer because it’s made from fermented grain. You told me that. I’m not stupid.”

I don’t fancy any of the other draught beers – either styles I’m not into or imported – I’m switching to sake.

“Because none of the others are strong enough, you mean.”

“Did I say that out loud again?”

“Yes, Dad.”
“Yes, Dad.”

I start with Kuro Ushi red label, described as “strong and straight / cold.”

“You’ve gone for the strongest one again. Can you stop that?” Alexei is getting wound up again.

“It’s only 100 mils. And Sake doesn’t get that strong.”

“You know what I mean. Don’t go crazy.” Alexei says sternly.

“When did I ever go crazy?”

“Lots of times, Dad.” Andrew’s voice sounds weary.

“I don’t remember that.”

“Exactly, Dad.”

Christ. The indignities I have to suffer and the hands of those little bastards.

“Who are you calling a bastard, Dad?”

“Did I say that out loud again?”

“Yes, Dad.”
“Yes, Dad.”

“And it makes sense you calling your own children bastards. Are you stupid?” Alexei is always on the front foot.

For purely scientific purposes, I’m having a warm sake. Just to compare the two styles.

Alexei scowls over at me. “Dad, remember what I said about not going crazy?”

“It’s only 100 mils.”

“You keep saying that.”

Great to see how the warm sake is prepared. Pan full of water on a hob, sake measured out into a metal cup and put in the pan. Warmed while the barmaid stirs and monitors the temperature with a thermometer. So wonderfully precise.

Someone comes in with a bag of 12-inchers. He shows them to the DJ. Looks like he’s looking to sell.

They were also showing From Dusk Until Dawn, projected on the back wall. The distortion caused by the uneven projection surface made the film all that weirder.

What a great pub. A classic.

We don’t stay too late, still worrying a bit about the weather. The typhoon is due to strike land in the next few hours. I get myself another ready meal in the 7 11 opposite the hotel. And cash in my 50 yen off Yakitori coupon.

I’ve been making great efforts not to accumulate change. Wherever possible, I’ve been paying the exact amount with as many coins as possible. Right down to the last yen. It’s working. My wallet is much lighter than it was a few days ago.

I end the day with some cheap whisky in the kids’ room.

HACHI Craft Beer and Sake
19 Hiraicho,
Kyoto, 600-8118